CHRISTIAN WARLICHKing of tattooists

From 27 november 2019 until 25 may 2020

At the beginning of the 20th century the practice of tattooing experienced a real boom in the western world. In metropolises such as London and New York as well as in other larger seaports, renowned tattooists struggled to keep up with the great demand from within all levels of society. One of the exceptional protagonists at this time was Hamburger tattooist Christian Warlich who practiced his craft for half a century - from the times of the early Weimar Republic until his death in St. Pauli in 1964. He drew inspiration from Asian and American designs which made their way to Hamburg on the living mediums of sailors’ bodies. His creations still fascinate tattooists and tattoo fans from all over the world. The “King of Tattooists” has achieved real cult status.

 The Museum for Hamburg History owns a fascinating collection of Warlich artefacts of global significance which forms the basis for this exhibition. Artefacts related to Karl Finke, Willi Spiegel, Martin Ahlers, Paul Holzhaus and other 20th century tattooists give us an insight into the tattoo scene in Hamburg at that time. Artefacts concerning Warlich‘s reception since the 1930s together with many contemporary works inspired by Warlich as well as international loans form the basis for the world’s first comprehensive exhibition about a key figure in the global history of tattoos.

A  collaboration with


Museum for Hamburg History

Activate map

Opening hours

Montays 10 - 17 
Tuesdays CLOSED
Wednesdays to Fridays 10 - 17 
Saturdays & Sundays 10 - 18

Page of the week

The flash book by Christian Warlich with over 300 tattoo designs is the heart of the exhibition. So that all motifs can be admired in the original, every week a different double page will be shown. Find out which pages will be opened this month.

November 2019


Hardcover, 108 pages, 32,0 x 24,5 cm, 375 color illustrations
ISBN: 978-3-7913-5896-3
Release date:
September 02, 201
€ 38,– (D)

ISBN 978-3-7913-5896-3

Order now

Tattoo Flash Book

Christian Warlich was a world famous German tattooist and his flash book is one of the most coveted objects in the tattoo world. It is now available in this exquisite edition that includes over three hundred hand-drawn designs restored to their original vibrant state. It also includes photographs and other archival material, much of which has never been published before. This book brings Warlich’s career into new focus, reflecting the latest research on how his early years at sea may have influenced his work. Intricate renderings of cowboys and indigenous Americans, Chinese dragons and Japanese geishas, daggers, snakes, and skulls reveal not only Warlich’s influence in the iconography of tattoos, but also suggest the interplay of ideas with tattooists across Europe, North America, and Asia. The book also explores how Warlich’s estate helped shape the state of tattoo art today. This elegant book is invaluable in understanding the importance of Warlich to the history of tattooing.


Collector’s Edition
€ 299,– (D)
ISBN 978-3-00-062733-0


Available at the museum shop

Christian Warlich - "king of tattooists"